Importing unmanifested cargo is a violation of Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance — Amid diplomatic row and Hong Kong customs investigation, claims emerge the shipment breached other local laws
South China Morning Post
A shipment of Singaporean armoured troop carriers impounded by local authorities last week may have broken more local laws than initially thought.
The Post understands the nine Terrex armoured infantry carriers and components found in 12 containers en route from Taiwan to Singapore without appropriate permits, were also not “specifically” declared in the cargo manifest.
Importing unmanifested cargo is a violation of Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance and carries a maximum penalty of a seven-year jail term and HK$2 million fine, according to a source with the knowledge of the matter.
The source said the shipping company involved had a duty to declare the type of goods on board its vessel, and that “the case will be handled in accordance with the laws”.
It comes as Hong Kong Customs investigates whether the shipping company APL, the cargo’s consignee or its consigner was responsible for failing to attain the required permit. APL was hired by Singapore Armed Forces to deliver the vehicles back to Singapore after they were used for training in Taiwan.
Under the city’s Import and Export Ordinance, a licence is required for the import, export, re-export or transshipment of strategic commodities. The maximum penalty for failing to obtain a licence is an unlimited fine and seven years imprisonment.
Singapore’s Ministry for Defence on Friday last week said APL was required to “comply with all regulations including the declaration of transported equipment in the ship’s cargo manifest and for obtaining the necessary permits required to transit through ports”.
Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. We resolutely oppose any nation to have official contact and military connection with Taiwan.
On Wednesday, the shipping company said: “APL continues to extend its full cooperation to the relevant Hong Kong authorities and work with the various stakeholders. We are unable to provide details of the ongoing discussion.”
The saga erupted when the vehicles and components were confiscated by Hong Kong Customs at a Kwai Chung container terminal on Wednesday last week. The incident quickly intensified diplomatic tensions between China and Singapore.
FactWire news agency reported the cargo vessel had previously docked in the mainland port of Xiamen, and that mainland agents had tipped off Hong Kong customs about the vehicles.
China’s foreign ministry on Monday lodged a diplomatic protest aimed at Singapore over the saga, demanding abidance to the “one-China” principle. Observers said the protest was a warning to both Singapore and Taiwan, as Singapore had been carrying out military exercises on the self-ruled island – a practice that has long angered Beijing.
In response to the diplomatic protest, Singapore reassured Beijing it “will not deviate” from the one-China principle.
On Wednesday, Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence, said: “Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. We resolutely oppose any nation to have official contact and military connection with Taiwan.”
Hong Kong’s customs department on Wednesday remained tight-lipped on the investigation into the shipment.
“The case is under investigation and no further information is available,” the department said.
The department refused to say how many similar cases had been detected, or how it handled seized military equipment previously.
Additional reporting Catherine Wong
Tags: China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong customs investigation, Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance, Ministry of National Defence, one-China principle, seized armoured vehicles, Singapore, Taiwan, unmanifested cargo